When you see someone walking around the gym with a big back, I’m sure you’d be wondering how they were able to achieve that kind of feat. Well, such kind of accomplishments is not achieved by just talking it; you have to hit the gym. Go raw, go hard or go home! Push yourself to the limits with strength and power lifts and progressions, power training drills, and cardio conditioning workouts. These workouts are usually not easy for first timers, but the results are thrilling and encouraging
There are varieties to these exercises that can target and strengthen the posterior chain, and that are why we’ve assembled 10 most effective exercises for the back body if you really want to give it the ‘beasting’ of its life by trying some of these workouts. However, if you feel pain while doing these workouts, you should stop so you don’t get injured. Bodybuilding is good, but so is your safety. Make sure you start with weights you can handle and slowly work your way to heavier sizes. If you find that you just can’t lift something, stop trying. Overexerting your muscles is a good way to hurt yourself. If you don’t have a preset list to your daily workouts, then you should consider this list as one.
1. DECLINE-BENCH DUMBBELL PULL-OVER
This one of the most preferred back-building moves; not only because it easy to learn the movement quick, but because it is effective at building bigger and stronger lats especially when employed alongside with other back-training exercises
However if you’re a newbie to this exercise; to avoid the dumbbells from falling on your face, it is always advisable to make sure the plates are firmly fixed and not loosed or rather, have a spotter hand you the weight instead . This exercise can also be performed using a barbell or an e-z bar. Flat Dumbbell pullovers also create the point of maximal loading when the lats are put on stretch. But, due to the bench angle, the stretch is not as great as when performing this exercise from an incline bench. But regardless of how the body is positioned on the bench, always make sure you tilt your pelvis before starting the exercise as it helps you better to maintain the spinal alignment.
Also, as I already mentioned, ensure that the dumbbell used is in perfect working condition. Old dumbbells in need of welding should never be used to perform this exercise.
2. WIDE-GRIP PULL-UP
Just like the bent-over barbell row, this is also a popular and widely-practiced exercise that involves pulling yourself upward using a fixed bar. It is good for building strength especially in the lats. The result you get for performing this exercise largely depends on how you perform it. The most common styles are the narrow grip pull-ups and the wide grip pull-ups. While both styles target the same muscles, it would interest you to know that the slight differences in grip can make a difference in what muscles come into play. For instance, if you spread your hands further apart on the bar, it will be more difficult to pull up, but you focus more energy on your lats. A reverse grip, wrapping your hands around the back of the bar, will put more emphasis on your biceps.
Pull-ups can be difficult to start, as you need some good bicep strength already before really attempting them. The key is to push through the early frustration so you can build the muscles necessary to do more and more.
Make sure not to swing during this exercise. The temptation is to help yourself up using momentum, but this lessens the effect of the exercise on your lats. You will wind up pulling the bar towards your chest, which engages other muscles that you aren’t trying to work out.
3. STANDING T-BAR ROW
This is also one of the most powerful workouts for the back muscles. Here, the main muscle at work is the middle back and the lats. Other affected muscles are the back shoulders, posterior chains, quads, glutes, biceps and of course, the abdominals. This workout is generally effective for the whole back as it strengthens and adds thickness to the lats; making it bigger
But while trying to work this powerful exercise, it is important not to fill the bar with plates more than one’s capability; meaning you should only fill the bar with more plates as you build strength overtime in form. Also, it is expedient to warm up and find a stable position for this exercise. You should try and maintain the arch in your lower back so as to avoid the risk of spinal injury. And also, always make sure you keep your elbows close to your sides as you pull the bar up. The more you flare the elbows, the less the effectiveness.
The procedure includes loading one side of barbell with as much plates as you can carry; place the other end of the bar on the floor and secure it in a corner of the gym. Keep your abs tight while pulling the bar toward your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top. Hold for a brief count, and then slowly lower the bar along the same path until you feel a good stretch in your back muscles and your arms are near full extension. Stop just short of allowing the weight to touch the floor. Repeat for reps
4. BARBELL DEADLIFT
This is one of the most important and effective exercises in physique building as it engages the abdominal muscles, quads, gluteus, spinal erectors, upper lats, posterior chain, shoulders, muscles around the waist and hips responsible for correct posture and the tendons in your hamstring etc.; thereby preventing injuries in those places
There’s so much more to this exercise which seems to be a less important muscle builder at first but make no mistakes about it, it’s all-encompassing as it affects the entire back; literally working every muscles there; burning much calories in the process.
There’s a particular procedure to this movement but most people do not how to perform it properly. You can deadlift in just 5 simple steps: walk to the bar, grab it, bend your legs until they touch the bar, raise your chest and pull. However you risk suffering injury if you do it the wrong way. But once you gain mastery of how to go about it, it becomes easier to do over time; and then you can proceed to lifting heavier weights. The hips are vital points when it comes to deadlifting
There are so many do’s and don’ts. But for the purpose of this article, I’ll highlight some of them which are:
- You should always to listen to your body at all times. Because unless you have a death wish, on no circumstance should you continue deadlifting if you feel a sudden but sharp pain in your lower back (posterior chain); no matter how little or insignificant it might seem to you.
- Make sure you don’t round or flatten your back too so as to avoid back injury
- Try to increase strength in your lower back and hamstrings for a more effective deadlift.
- Do not go heavy at first. Start small
- For first timers, you shouldn’t look at the mirrors while you’re at it, else it would mar with your progress and hurt your neck in the process. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that
5. SINGLE-ARM SMITH-MACHINE ROW
This badass exercise is also good as you get hit in your lower lats. The procedure includes standing in the middle of a Smith machine with the bar set about mid-thigh height; Grab the bar with your right hand about four inches outside of your right thigh, using an overhand grip. Unrack the bar and pull it up to chest height, leading with your elbow flared out to the side as much as possible. After finishing all reps on the right side, repeat with the left arm.
The trick here is to keep your body still throughout the movement and control the weight. Also, try as much as possible not let your back arch. Keep your eyes and head up to help you keep a straight back. Focus on pulling the bar up with your back – not allowing your forearms to carry the weight.
6. REVERSE-GRIP SMITH-MACHINE ROW
There are variations to this exercise that primarily targets the lower back and also to a lesser degree, the shoulders, biceps and the forearms.
If you have back problems, then this exercise isn’t meant for you, you should probably try the Low Pulley Row instead. Also like I always say, it is better to use less weight so as not to cause complications for oneself in form of injury. To an extent, this is an exercise for those with an intermediate level of physical fitness and exercise experience
7. CLOSE-GRIP PULL-DOWN
This exercise is also a good one as it improves strength throughout the entire back with an emphasis on the middle back. All you have to do is to hold the parallel cable attachment, sit with thighs under supports, pull down cable attachment to upper chest and return until arms and shoulders are fully extended. Then Repeat. However, you should make sure you sit tall with your chest up, your shoulders down and back and avoid rounding your upper back
8. SINGLE-ARM DUMBBELL ROW
This exercise helps to strengthen your biceps and shoulders as you pull the weight upward, just like the way you’d do when rowing a boat. Exercising the upper back without machinery isn’t easy but this exercise does a good job, but you have to be careful about it especially if you have lower back problems. During this special workout, it is important for you to keep a bunch of guidelines in mind; one of them is keeping your head up and eyes facing forwards, as this will help keep your back straight.
9. BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW
When it comes to building lats and traps, this is like the king of the lair as it is very effective and widely practiced by lifters. By targeting the muscles located at the back, this is exercise can be used for both bodybuilding and powerlifting. Matter of fact, research has shown that hitting this will cause a great impact on the posterior chain; working larger muscle groups of the upper and lower back equally, thereby making this a great overall body builder. Though this position is good for increasing strength and size, it requires a steady balance which can be difficult for many to learn. And that’s why for beginners, one would need supervision so as to be taught the safer postures and how to adopt a balanced alignment. However it would be expedient for one to start this exercise with a slow tempo without jerking.
The procedure includes holding a barbell in front of your body with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width, tightening your core, straightening your back, and dropping your torso down to 60º, powerfully contracting your back and biceps, and pulling the barbell upwards into the top of your core. Hold for 1s and return down to a full extension. Repeat.
10. WIDE-GRIP SEATED CABLE ROW
This workout is often considered as a middle back exercise by most fitness trainers and bodybuilders. Primarily, the purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the muscles that draw your arm towards the body, as well as those muscles that support the spine, and not forgetting the trapezius and rhomboids. When rowing, the muscles that support the legs are also exercised as well. Now with all that being said, there is no need telling you where you’d get hit after your first rep; you’ll just feel it.
During this workout, you should make sure you keep a slight bend in your knees throughout, and on the descent, maintain a big chest with your abs tight and back flat. This posture from head to toe will ensure your safest and strongest possible set. Also, you should avoid swinging your torso back and forth as it can affect the lower muscles and abs, thereby causing injury there.